|ʙᴇᴇᴘ ʙᴇᴇᴘ, ʀɪᴄʜɪᴇ (trashmouthed) wrote in valloic,|
@ 2020-10-30 12:59:00
|Entry tags:||!action/thread/log, dragon age: max trevelyan, it: richie tozier|
WHO: Richie & Max
WHAT: Iced coffee so strong they feel hope for four minutes
WHERE: Jacked Up
WHEN: Idk, today?
WARNINGS: Sometimes thoughts and talks go a little dark but nothing too bad
|There were about a thousand different coffee shops in Vallo City, which made sense - it was a big city, and even leprechauns and orcs needed their morning fuel or whatever. Richie had to take more than a minute to get used to the fact that he had apparently been transported into a sci-fi film or maybe even a rousing game of D&D because a minotaur with a bagel cart was just wild, and he still kind of blinked owlishly behind thick-lensed glasses whenever a unicorn was in front of him at Starbucks.|
But speaking of Starbucks, this coffee shop was definitely not that - it was a grade above overpriced shitty burnt roast (but those little bagel and cream cheese bites were banging, not going to lie, he’d murder someone for those). It was called Jacked Up, a sharp-looking place framed in brick, with colorful chairs and a things will be fine light-up sign scrawled on the wall in pink neon letters, kind of a weird but surprisingly effective comfort. The cold brew packed a punch and the iced coffee came with all sorts of flavors, the espresso quality ensured you’d never blink again and, well, Jacked Up was no lie.
He didn’t have a whole wardrobe’s worth of clothes yet - just some everyday wear and a couple things (read: bright blazers and tacky overshirts) he could wear to auditions at comedy clubs, where he’d pitch his act - so he made sure the hoodie and jeans he wore were clean and smelling fresh, because he was meeting the hottest guy he’d seen in like, ever, and Richie already felt like a woeful dumbass just being in the same space with someone that good-looking. But he went inside and picked a table, deciding he’d wait to order until Max got here. It wasn’t super crowded, so not like he needed to get in line right away or anything. He’d just play games on his phone in the meantime; always had to keep his hands busy, this one.
Max Trevelyan, who was only now beginning to feel human again much less the hottest guy like ever, was trying not to be obviously fascinated by the glowing neon sign proclaiming in an optimistic yet ominous tone ‘things will be fine’ as he entered the agreed-upon shop. The luminous quality of the pink light reminded him of magefire, but he’d learned fast that things that were amazing to him here in Vallo were commonplace to those who had been here a while. An inner voice that sounded frighteningly like Vivienne de Fer reminded him to stand straight and not gawk, and he did so, figuring that although the brown leather casual armor he’d raided from his wardrobe at Skyhold was very out of style here, with (incredibly-faked) confidence anything could be pulled off, and it was still better than the mucked up armor he’d arrived in.
Through context he spotted Richie quickly - he was the only one of appropriate age who was sitting alone. Max headed over and smiled, the expression easy as he indicated the seat across from the man. “I hope this spot isn’t taken, because if it is I’m liable to crawl directly into the coffee apparatus itself. Maker, it smells delicious in here.”
“Oh - “ Richie fumbled only slightly, to his credit, phone stuffed back into his pocket; his returned smile was easy too, it crinkled bluebell eyes at the corners and he pushed his glasses up from where they’d slipped along his nose a little after staring down at a screen. “It’s luckily not taken, but I don’t blame you for wanting to crawl into the coffeemaker. If I could sleep there it’d save so much agony in the morning.”
This was - the guy was wearing leather. Leather. Sometimes Richie believed in a higher power. This was maybe one of those times.
Still, he was aware that staring was rude and also really sad to do but Richie himself was sad, having no idea how to deal with anything that had happened to him recently, along with loss that felt like gravity had abandoned him. He supposed he just had to take it one day at a time, to start with. “Here, let’s head up to the counter so you can study the menu,” he offered, standing, and coming ‘round the other side of the table. “If you have any questions let me know, but may I recommend any of the iced coffees, flavored, and with extra espresso? The more sugar, the more hope you have. For at least two minutes.”
Luckily for Richie, Max was used to new acquaintances acting a little odd when they first met him; being one of the most famous individuals in Thedas tended to bring that out of people, unless they were permanently unimpressed like Sera or had been with him since the low beginning, like Varric. And so he didn’t even notice Richie’s behavior as he watched the other man make suggestions with regard to how he should try the local popular beverage.
“Why don’t you order for me?” Max asked. “I’ve only had coffee once or twice when visiting Orlais; that menu looks like a foreign language.” He smiled, shrugged. “But I promise I’ll pay attention so I know what to say the next time I’m here alone.”
If there was one thing he’d learned during his time leading the Inquisition, it was that if you were liable to fuck something up, it was better to delegate it to someone who knew what they were doing, and Richie seemed built of the sort of energy that sparked wild unless it had something to do. With an indication of his shoulder, Max walked toward the counter and smiled despite himself - it’d been a long while since he’d seen so many pastries and compared to rations in the wilds of the Free Marches… “A… bear claw, please, thank you,” he said politely to the man waiting on his order before turning to Richie with a shrug.
“Why not shoot for an extra four minutes of hope while we’re here?”
Had him pegged in one, Maxwell. Sparking wild was kind of Richie’s thing - he was bright as a moonbeam and possessed a pure energy that kind of just vibrated. He also probably didn’t need any coffee, ever, but it was one of his few pleasures in life so you could pull his iced caramel latte from his cold dead hands, thanks kindly.
“I’m flattered you trust me that much,” he said with a grin, studying the menu but he really didn’t need to - if Max wanted four minutes of hope, then four minutes of hope was what he’d get. “And the bear claw is an A-plus choice.”
For Richie it was an iced coffee, the largest size, with three shots of espresso - and like, four pumps of mocha and one pump of sweet cream, this crazy combination that no one would think of but Richie knew his shit and now he was probably going to give Max a heart attack but that was fine. It was a good way to go. “It’s the extra espresso that really makes it,” he said, handing Max his identical drink once it was prepared. “And the mocha makes it taste like Count Chocula cereal? Which you also need to try.”
A font of knowledge, this Richie. But yes, it was back to the table so they could sit and enjoy and revel in the sugar buzz. Bzzz, bzzzzz.
Max took the seat across from Richie and wrapped his fingers around the icy plastic cup, thanking the Maker silently that he’d already made an idiot of himself the previous day when he discovered the magic of how straws worked in relative privacy. Not that Richie seemed the type to mock unjustly; at least not other people (mocking himself unjustly may or may not have been on the table).
Without preamble, Max took a sip of his frankendrink, not really knowing what to expect - the coffee in Orlais had been strong and bitter, laced with rosemary and honey, and he hadn’t liked it much at first but the second time, something about its kind cruelty had been appropriate for the morning three days after Solas’s betrayal was revealed. Richie’s concoction, however, was certified balls-out sugar rush, sweet and cold and sweet again. He could taste the coffee but its bite had been neutralized to velvet by the chocolate and cream; he was unable to keep the surprise from his face.
“To the void,” he swore, sitting back in his chair in the manner of a man who had just gotten run over by a rampaging druffalo. “That’s-- is this coffee?” He picked it up and peered through the plastic cup, certain he’d been duped. “It’s wonderful. It was -- three espresso - am I saying that correctly? And something called mo-cah, and cream? Maker’s breath. Two sips and I think I’m flying.”
This was exactly the type of reaction Richie was looking for - it was beautiful. About as beautiful as the euphoria he experienced when he took the first few sips of his iced coffee concoction. That special kind of euphoria that was like a bout of knuckle-cracking, except all over your body, and it was definitely as hopeful and soaring as floating away on a candy-floss cloud.
Made of sugar.
And doused in espresso.
“Riiiiiiiight?” he drawled in agreement, with a triumphant, crooked smile. “You’re saying it correctly though, good job. If you finish it, I’ll be super impressed. Must mean you have a stomach of steel.” He wouldn’t talk about indigestion though, that wasn’t a good conversational topic at all. “There’s like, so much stuff to learn about and try. I’m doing the same thing with this kid from another time period too, she never had a pizza cone before so I got her one. I’m the expert on what’s bad for you.”
Hey, everyone needed a talent in life.
“I make no promises as to completing it, but I’ll give it my sincerest effort.” Max felt as if setting expectations were going to go a long way toward abating disappointment. The drink was delicious, in the sort of way that got you into trouble, which he was beginning to suspect was Richie’s thing. Richie’s chattering about the pizza cone only confirmed it.
With a quiet chuckle, he leaned back in his chair and attempted to look at ease. Max had been told by several different people that he had a tendency to appear ready to dispense Inquisitorial justice at a moment’s notice, and well, he’d never quite broken the habit. Call it a childhood of manners and an adolescence of hoping Templar eyes went right over him; either way, even his ‘I’m totally chilling, I swear’ posture looked… straight-backed. “You’re new here,” he observed, his voice going from polite to observational, “but you seem rather at ease with… everything. Your food is here, you don’t dress that much differently than other people here.” Save apparently the need to check for color-blindness, but Max didn’t mind that. “Is this place so similar in details to your own home, or are you just...” a gesture to the side, “good at faking it?”
He supposed the third option might have been “good at rolling with it,” but there was something about the quickness of his companion’s hands and darting glances that did not imply serenity.
“Uh, wow,” Richie chuckled, and he hadn’t been expecting that question. Getting down to the dirty, Maxwell, he was impressed - most people just looked at him and were like ‘obvious goofball, check’ and didn’t really think there was much else beyond the superficial layer. Like he was only the foam atop the coffee drink, you see.
A part of him wondered why Max even wanted to know, but that was simply the low self-esteem talking.
He stirred his drink with his straw, sloshing ice that hit against the plastic cup. “I’m a performer, so - “ As if that explained it all, right? But he shrugged, took another sip. “Good at faking it is kind of my job. Though it’s not all fake.”
Of course not. Richie, at his core, was a kind sort of person - sure, a part of his job was all about the attention and the positivity from earning smiles and how that felt, but the other was about the genuineness in making people laugh. When he was a kid, he was always the first to share his comic books with his friends, buy them ice cream if they didn’t have the allowance money, or give away his tokens at the video game arcade. He liked making people happy, what could he say. “I just didn’t think you wanted to hear about the shit that happened before I was Valloed,” he added, with a sheepish smile.
Max, who tended more than not to cut through things that he didn’t immediately understand (typically metaphorically, but sometimes…) gave a nod, thinking of the bards he’d met along the way. They were performers, and frequently as sharp-eyed. “I didn’t mean to imply that you were a fake,” he assured Richie, taking another sip of the demon’s drink (Maker, it went down quickly with a straw). “Just that you’re either phenomenally well-adjusted to dramatic change or… you’ve gotten good at seeming so. I do know a little about that.”
His smile looked a bit like a sweater that had shrunk in the wash. Max propped up his chin in his hand, still inexplicably tired after getting that weekend of rest. He supposed he’d be paying that debt the rest of his life. “I don’t need to know about your life before Vallo, and I certainly don’t want to be nosy - though I frequently am,” he admitted. “It’s just-- reinvention only goes so far when some things get into your bones, you know? But feel free to tell me to sod off if it’s private,” he added hastily. “There’s a million and one things I’d rather not talk about at any given time, myself. Even if some people wear their past like some sort of... damp fur scarf they want to flop on your face and make you acknowledge, from time to time.” His tone was ever-so-slightly arch; at this point Max assumed tragic history was a given in this strange city. Get in line.
“Damp fur scarf,” Richie repeated, sounding both horrified and amused. It was an apt comparison though, he thought - considering he’d be hard-pressed to find anyone here who A. didn’t have mommy or daddy issues, or B. hadn’t already unlocked ‘tragic backstory.’ But some people wore it well and some people...he guessed wore it like a wet beaver wrapped around the neck. “There’s definitely a lot that already sank, down to the bone level. I mean, I guess some things you don’t ever fully get over. Which is okay - like, you learn to live with it.”
Like after someone close to you died. The pain of losing Eddie was very real, very present - it felt like walking on shards of glass while barefoot, and constant, as if he'd been hit with an electric fence while sopping wet and it just sizzled through him. It might simmer to a dull roar but he’d have to work around it - it wasn’t going to go away.
“What was it like for you?” he wanted to know, turning the cup in his hands. “Your past, I mean. Not because I’m trying to compare tragic backstories, I’m just curious.”
Max took a careful drink of his coffee, stalling for time, and set it aside. Fair enough, wasn’t it? He’d manage to poke a scab without providing much in return. Max thought back to all that had happened, all that messy, muddy, glut of hope, betrayal, and magic he didn’t entirely understand, and tried to figure out how to encompass all of that without sounding like either some sort of egotistical asshat or overly-weepy showpony.
“Thedas was in a crisis,” he said slowly, trying to set the scene. “We’d just lost the head of our religious organization and many people who were attempting to end a civil war between an offshoot of that organization and mages. And to top it off, great gashes were appearing in the sky, spewing demons all over the continent.” He managed a half-smile. “Due to what ultimately amounted to a magical accident, I was branded with the very thing that was capable of closing the rifts. Which I did, of course, ‘cause I’m not a git.” He flashed his teeth.
“But it was, as you might imagine, a lot of pressure to be the solution to every problem Thedas could haul at me. Because of course I wasn’t. I was lucky enough to have a lot of advisors and friends help me with making decisions, but even then, we couldn’t anticipate everything. So if you asked me to summarize things, I’d say that being here - of having that weight lifted, of having anonymity again - feels both riddled with possibility and constricting. If that makes any sense at all.”
Richie took all that in and it sounded like a lot - like, fucking a lot, and it didn’t seem fair to force someone in the role of having to prove themselves, prove that they were more than a walking brand or whatever. But nothing was fair, and it hadn’t been fair that an Eldritch horror from space had crash-landed into his hometown centuries before he was even born, but here they were. Shit was what it was.
“That’s tough, you know? I mean, having to lead like that. It’s like - who can you trust? I’m sure most everyone had their own agendas too,” he said, swirling the ice again with his straw - as the ice melted it sort of cut through some of the sweetness, so that helped. “It makes sense, being glad about anonymity and also kind of like ‘what the fuck do I do with this. I think being here is a lot to get used to, and there are good and bad parts.”
From the little he knew and from he’d observed so far, anyway. Richie still didn’t plan on looking back to see what his other version younger self (what the fuck) had gotten up to, but he was pretty sure that things hadn’t been so bad for him. That was good enough.
“Luckily, my family was not only well off, but I’d spent most of my adolescence in a mage Circle,” Max said with a grin: “So I’m dead used to everybody having their own agendas.”
Because it could have gone worse - a lot worse. The mindfuck that there had not only been another Inquisitor before him, but two, actually went a long way to denting his ego and making him feel less… singled out by the universe. He supposed asking for a simple emotion was too much.
He reached for his drink again, fiddled with the straw. “What sort of performance do you like doing? Singing, acting…?” It seemed both a safe question and a necessary one.
“I’m a shit singer,” Richie laughed, though in all actuality he wasn’t too bad. He just never really had trained in that arena and had no desire to - but he’d do okay on karaoke night, probably. “Better at acting. I’ve done mostly voice work, had a few small parts in television shows.” For the voice work, that was pretty early on in his career so he was high as fuck, most likely - he’d stopped doing hard drugs but maybe it was a good thing he was here and had a kid staying with him, because after Eddie’s death he could see himself going on a bender to deal with that pain. And the guilt.
In Vallo, it wasn’t really an option - he needed money to live, not buy the booger sugar, snow in a baggie. “But lately it’s been like...comedy?” he said. “I have a stand-up routine. Just means I’m on a stage telling jokes, making people laugh. I traveled around the country doing it, so it was a lot of living out of a suitcase and visiting a new city every couple of days.”
He hoped to do the same thing in Vallo, however - he thrived under the spotlight, loved being up on stage. It was good attention, positive attention - that was the good stuff, a better high than drugs, anyway. “Once I get into doing a routine here, you can come watch,” he offered, then added, “...if you want.” Before sluuuuuuuurp, casually sipping the rest of his drink.
Max wasn’t entirely certain what ‘voice work’ meant, but he had the gist from context. ‘Television shows’ he’d picked up from some of the catch up he’d been forced to do upon arriving in Skyhold.
Comedy, though, he knew. He perked up, recognizing that while ‘stand up’ wasn’t something that was a profession in Thedas, comedians - bards, mostly - were certainly a thing he recognized. “It doesn’t make you nervous, having all that attention on you?” he asked curiously, inclining his head. Max had done some public speaking as a matter of necessity but it always left him wanting to get sick all over Solas’s shoes (which was handy, because these days Solas himself made him sick).
It took a few moments of Richie’s demonstrative slurping before Max realized that he’d been issued an invitation. “Of course,” he said, sitting up straighter, grabbing the plastic cup out of reflex. “I’d love to see your show. Take note, though,” he added with a grin, “when I only get half your jokes, it’s only because I’m not from around here. Not because you’re not funny. That’s my offer.”
The question about whether or not all that attention made him nervous was relatively easy to answer - especially for Richie, who had thrived on attention since basically the day he was born. He didn’t always get that attention from his parents, though - who preferred to let him fend for himself in that regard. There was a reason that one of his biggest fears was just disappearing forever, sucked into a void, a black hole or possibly eaten by a shapeshifting demon clown - so if he was getting attention, that meant he was still kicking.
“Nah, I like it,” he admitted. “It’s kind of a rush, being up on the stage like that. Some people aren’t into it though, which is cool.” Different strokes for different folks. He didn’t write his own material, so...
But yeah, anyway. It’d been so long since he did write his own material, the thought of doing so here was kind of daunting but also exhilarating. “I promise I won’t be offended if you don’t get half the jokes. It’ll just be nice to have like, your face in the audience - support,” he added quickly. “And...support. Yeah.” Jurafhahfjabn and more internal keysmashing.
Max had reigned in his snarky tendencies thus far, being both cognizant that his sense of humor occasionally had claws, and not wanting to put off his new friend as soon as he met him. But Richie had a dark streak as well; he could perceive it in the edge of his smile, and emboldened by the potent combination of clinging exhaustion and the surging caffeine, Max grinned like a smug cat and said: “Well, fortunately, my support is rather dependent upon my having a face, so it seems like you’re in luck.”
He’d forgotten about his bear claw, he realized. It was a massive thing; Max had no idea how to eat it politely, and so he pulled off a claw and popped it in his mouth, chewing, and held out the pastry to his companion. “How long do you think it’ll be before you do a show? I’m still trying to sort of what my job’ll be. Oddly, they don’t seem to need any propheticized religious figures here.”
Oooh, bear claw. Richie took part of it as well, not too big of a piece - but enough to get at that almond paste on the inside. The rest he left for Max. “Hopefully in a couple weeks?” was his best guess. “I have some auditions coming up, so I’m preparing for those. Putting together a routine.” Usually he let others do the writing, while he delivered the laughs - but not this time.
It was like his squiggly tea leaves said - a new beginning. He was going to jump on it and see what happened. Maybe it was a new beginning in a whole lot of ways.
“Well, what do you feel like doing? What are you most interested in? Something’s gotta translate, from medieval times ‘til now. You said you’re, uh...magic, right?” He thought he remembered reading that, anyway; he also didn’t know much about it, considering most of his experiences with magic were bad, but that wasn’t Max with the face here. “There’s lots to do with that.”
Max chewed on the bear claw, thoughtfully. To any sane person the combination of Richie’s coffee and the pastry would be too much sugar, but Max just went with it like an enthusiastic hummingbird.
“A mage, yes,” he said with a smile to show that the correction didn’t bother him. “A knight-enchanter, specifically, which means I’ve picked up some things for the battlefield.” An understatement, to be sure. “I’m just not entirely certain if I want to go straight back into combat,” he admitted. “Call it a mid-life crisis. Quarter-life? Well, who knows, if my enemies have any say in it,” he joked. “Believe it or not, but I was fairly directionless at home before fate intervened. I figure I’ll give this place some time before I sign up for anything. Be a bit of a layabout. Maybe grow a horrifying depression beard.”
“You’d look nice with a depression beard - though maybe we’ll call it a ‘figuring shit out’ beard,” Richie offered, and that seemed fair enough. He was also tempted to grow a depression beard (if he let it go for two days he basically had a full beard anyway, the Sasquatch he was) but his facial hair was salt-and-peppered and he looked too damn old. “That’s cool though. You can take time to see what fits best.”
He was pretty sure he read something about how Outlanders could join the defense teams and get paid to do - stuff. Like patrol the forest, or hunt monsters and beasts and nasties, oh my? But he didn’t blame Max for not wanting to jump back into that sort of thing. It could probably wear on a person, especially when they didn’t even sign up for it in the first place back home.
Either way, he’d figure it out. They both would. Not just because they had no choice but to figure it out but because, well, maybe it was kind of exciting? New adventures, ahoy.